BY MERIT McCREA
SAN DIEGO/OCEANSIDE — The San Diego County fleet saw catches of the bigger bluefin tuna, leaving more southerly Mexican grounds for those just on the U.S. side of the border over the 4th of July weekend. It was cow season as even open-party anglers got a shot at that fish of a lifetime.
These included a 212 aboard the Game Changer and a 340 on the Pegasus.
The Game Changer was on a 2-man, 2.5-day trip and Capt. Ryan Stahl headed the boat southwest where the big boys roamed. Fishing both frozen and live flying fish put them on the bite and the were able to land 8 bluefin in the course of a day and a half fishing, before heading in early, anglers having had their fill.
Those fish included a 30 pounder, 3 at 130, a 140, a 150, a 195 and finally, angler Ray’s personal best, a 212 cow. While the key was the kite, it was clear to Stahl sinker rigs fished deep would also have worked.
That’s what others in the fleet found. It was taking a 4- or 5-ounce sinker rubber-banded onto 60-poound or heavier line to land these larger fish, most of which were between 120 and 180 pounds. For deep dropping the glow jigs at dawn and dusk — 100-pound line was the way to go.
The Pacifica returned from their 1.5-day Sunday morning with 16 tuna weighing from 110 to 195 pounds. Capt. Jason aboard the Pegasus had 7 bluefin — all larger than 125 pounds, including that 340 super cow.
In the past couple of days the Bight’s anglers reeled in a 130, a 146, a 163, and 2 others including a 250-pound cow. The Pacific Queen pulled in with 3 more between 130 and 180.
The Excel had 6 from 140 to 240 pounds, while the Shogun had 5 all over the 100-pound mark, within 1-day range. The Outrider rolled in from their 1.5-day with 5 more – 150 pounders.
At Point Loma Sportfishing’s docks, in addition to the Game Changer’s catch, the New Lo-An was in Sunday morning with 13 bluefin from 120 to 170 pounds.
The Easter B decked a 273.
The Old Glory found a biting school, shut down and 100 pounders were boiling all around the boat. Their first takedown on the kite was 20 seconds after the flyer was let go. Both it and a second instantaneous bite gained their freedom, one to a hook pulling and the second dove right under the boat.
The sinker rigs got bit hard and the crew never got a chance to put the kite back out. Battles were fought and many lost, but 8 were won – resulting in fish on deck to 150 pounds, including a yellowfin.
There weren’t a lot of yellowtail to find but those who did, put up some big scores. The 27 fishing the Condor decked 126 to go with a trio of bluefin Friday. Wednesday saw them pull limits of yellows for all 18 anglers (90).
That day the Pacific Queen also had limits, for 30, 150 yellows and 55 bluefin plus 5 dorado. The Tomahawk crew gaffed 80 yellows, 19 bluefin, 11 yellowfin and 11 dorado before the action moved into U.S. waters on the 100-pound plus models over the weekend.
As for the local bite, Capt. Fred Huber, Daily Double, Mission Belle and Point Loma, said the kelp calico bite eased slightly, but a run south found the sandbass eager biters, and with a shot at some monster yellows and seabass.
It was Charunee Phasupho’s 46-pound seabass that set the bar on the Daily Double Sunday. Thursday morning’s 19, 1/2-day anglers bagged 77 keeper calico.
The bass bite at the Coronados continued pretty much full steam, along with a bit of a barracuda bite plus a few shots at yellowtail. The Mission Belle ended up with 95 calico, 8 yellow and 34 skins for 24 fishing.
For the fleet out of Oceanside Harbor it was mostly about local trips fishing deeper water rockfish or local kelp beds. Bottom biters were cooperative, as were mostly catch and release bass.
In fact the Electra had a morning 1/2-day for 250 released, 2 kept. The Sea Trek on 3/4-day 161 rockfish in the bags before trying a bit of sand bassing for 9 keepers and 35 let go.
Capt. Rick Slavkin took his boat, the Oceanside 95 out after those monster bluefin, nabbing 4 from 75 to 100 pounds, plus 3 yellowfin tuna.
Over at the Oceanside SEA Center the coastal catches were similar, with local rockfish adding to the take-home on the 3/4-day trips and both 1/2- and 3/4-day trips spending some time in the kelp beds catching and releasing lots of bass.
Thursday morning saw 21 anglers aboard the Chubasco II land over 100 calico, letting 83 go. The Blue Horizon fished 3/4-day Friday to find 18 anglers 88 rockfish and 54 mixed bass, releasing all but 12.